Forgiveness isn’t always easy. Especially when you’re as sensitive as I am. Yes, I hold grudges. When I go from chatty Cathy to oh, I don’t know, sulky Sally, then you know I’m upset. So, it may have been obvious this past Friday when my in-laws came to visit and I wasn’t my usual talkative self. Granted, I’m not always so cheerful these days but I’m holding my own and I still manage to crack a few jokes with the best of them. But when the doorbell rang on Friday night, I felt awkward welcoming my in-laws into my home. Especially since Paul was still at work and one child was missing from running to the door to greet them, something that made me painfully aware that this visit was very different than ones in the past.
Normally, I get along well with my in-laws but a death in the family can sometimes put a damper on things. And Joaquin’s passing had definitely done a number to my relationship with my mother-in-law. At this point I cannot say who was right or who was wrong but I will say that when your child dies it compares to absolutely no other pain in the world and anything can set you off. Listen, these days, I’m hurting. I hurt for me. I hurt for Alejandro. I hurt for Paul. And many times I feel wronged in so many ways. Am I right? Maybe. Maybe not. But unless you’ve been through the loss of a child one cannot possibly understand the hurt, confusion, sadness and anger one feels in the days that linger without one part of your heart.
But on Saturday morning, as we prepared for our first Christmas family portrait without Joaquin, I noticed just how happy Paul was to have his mom and dad there. I locked myself in the bathroom and prayed. I prayed for guidance and I asked God to rid me of myself and fill me with the Holy Spirit. Doing so was the only was the only way I could right the wrong that was present in my relationship with my in-laws. Once done, I asked Paul if he needed his parents there for our first Thanksgiving without Joaquin or if he could care less. As always, he gave me this look of confusion because anything I asked these days as it pertains to his parents could blow up into something of catastrophic proportions, but I calmly repeated the question. I asked for him to be honest with himself and when he did he admitted that he needed his parents there. And with that, I knew what I had to do.
The photo session provided a wonderful backdrop of reminiscing about Joaquin with family and friends as we worked to bring out Joaquin’s story in this year’s Christmas picture. My in-laws looked on with smiles on their faces that masked their pain as well. They missed him too. After the photo session was complete I found myself alone with my mother-in-law and I extended an invitation back to our town for Thanksgiving. I already knew they had plans to spend it out of state away from their grieving son (a fact that left me bothered a few days prior) but my husband needed them there and I wanted them there for him. I offered no lengthy back story but rather simple and straightforward honesty. She politely thanked me for the offer and within the hour she later announced that they would be joining us for Thanksgiving. Both my father-in-law and Paul looked perplexed as the plans had changed. But my heart warmed. My husband would have his mom there with him for his first Thanksgiving without his son. Because no matter how old you are, how far away you live or how you grieve, you always need your mom. And who am I to stand in the way of a mother and her son.